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Israeli Spying: The Mother of all Scandals

Once again, Israel has been caught with spies at the highest levels of the US Government.

At the heart of the investigation are two people who work at The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. The FBI investigation, headed up by Dave Szady, has involved wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photography that CBS News was told document the passing of classified information from the mole, to the men at AIPAC, and on to the Israelis.

CBS sources say that last year the suspected spy, described as a trusted analyst at the Pentagon, turned over a presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran while it was, "in the draft phase when U.S. policy-makers were still debating the policy." This put the Israelis, according to one source, "inside the decision-making loop" so they could "try to influence the outcome." [CBS News]

Once again Israel denies wrongdoing, or faced with incontrovertible evidence (in this case one of the spies has reportedly cooperated with the FBI) dismisses the spying with the claim that such spying is harmless, because Israel and the United States are such good friends.

Well, let us take a closer look at that idea of “harmless espionage” by recalling Israel’s most famous failed spy, Jonathan Pollard.

Jonathan Pollard is an American of Jewish descent, born in Galveston Texas, who established a career as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy. There have been many theories offered as to why Pollard decided to betray his country of birth to the Jewish state, but that Pollard did betray his country of birth to Israel is beyond all doubt. Pollard’s defense was that he did not spy so much against the United States, only that he spied for Israel, sending them documents that in his opinion the US should have shared with Israel anyway.

That it was never Pollards job to decide what documents Israel should have was apparently irrelevant. Pollard arrogated that authority to himself. From his position of trust within the US Navy, Pollard delivered over 1000 classified documents to Israel for which he was well paid. Included in those documents were the names of over 150 US agents in the Mideast, who were eventually “turned” into agents for Israel.

But by far the most egregious damage done by Pollard was to steal classified documents relating to the US Nuclear Deterrent relative to the USSR and send them to Israel. According to sources in the US State Department, Israel then turned around and traded those stolen nuclear secrets to the USSR in exchange for increased emigration quotas from the USSR to Israel. Other information that found its way from the US to Israel to the USSR resulted in the loss of American agents operating inside the USSR. Casper Weinberger, in his affidavit opposing a reduced sentence for Pollard, described the damage done to the United States thus, "[It is] difficult to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by... Pollard's treasonous behavior."

This should end the suggestion that Israel’s spies are harmless. They are not. The United States’ nuclear deterrent cost an estimated five trillion taxpayer dollars during the 50s and 60s to build and maintain, and less than $100,000 for Pollard to undermine. Israel waited 13 years to admit Pollard had been spying for them, and now lobbies for his release, having granted him Israeli citizenship.

Pollard is hardly the only Israeli spy operating in the United States. He just had the misfortune to get caught. Here are just a few examples of the Israeli spy operations that have been detected.

1947. Information collected by the ADL in its spy operations on US citizens is used by the House Select Committee on Unamerican Activities. Subcommittee Chair Clare Hoffman dismisses the ADL’s reports on suspected communists as “hearsay."

1950 John Davitt, former chief of the Justice Department's internal security section notes that the Israeli intelligence service is the second most active in the United States after the Soviets.

1954 A hidden microphone planted by the Israelis is discovered in the Office of the US Ambassador in Tel Aviv.

1956 Telephone taps are found connected to two telephones in the residence of the US military attaché in Tel Aviv.

1954 "The Lavon Affair". Israeli agents recruit Egyptian citizens of Jewish descent to bomb Western targets in Egypt, and plant evidence to frame Arabs, in an apparent attempt to upset US-Egyptian relations. Israeli defense minister Pinchas Lavon is eventually removed from office, though many think real responsibility lay with David Ben-Gurion.

1965 Israel apparently illegally obtains enriched uranium from NUMEC Corporation. (Washington Post, 6/5/86, Charles R. Babcock, "US an Intelligence Target of the Israelis, Officials Say.")

1967 Israel attacks the USS Liberty, an intelligence gathering vessel flying a US flag, killing 34 crew members. See "Assault on the Liberty," by James M. Ennes, Jr. (Random House). In 2004, Captain Ward Boston, Senior Legal Counsel for the Navy’s Court of Inquiry into the attack swears under oath that President Lyndon Johnson ordered the investigation to conclude accident, even though the evidence indicates the attack was deliberate. Given the use by Israel of unmarked boats and planes, and the machine-gunning of USS Liberty’s lifeboats, the most likely explanation is that USS Liberty was to be sunk with all hands, with evidence left to frame Egypt for the sinking. This would have dragged the US into the war on Israel’s side.

1970 While working for Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Richard Perle is caught by the FBI giving classified information to Israel. Nothing is done.

1978, Stephen Bryen, then a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, is overheard in a DC hotel offering confidential documents to top Israeli military officials. Bryen obtains a lawyer, Nathan Lewin, and the case heads for the grand jury, but is mysteriously dropped. Bryen later goes to work for Richard Perle.

1979 Shin Beth [the Israeli internal security agency] tries to penetrate the US Consulate General in Jerusalem through a “Honey Trap”, using a clerical employee who was having an affair with a Jerusalem girl.

1985 The New York Times reports the FBI is aware of at least a dozen incidents in which American officials transferred classified information to the Israelis, quoting [former Assistant Director of the F.B.I.] Mr. [Raymond] Wannal. The Justice Department does not prosecute.

1985 Richard Smyth, the owner of MILCO, is indicted on charges of smuggling nuclear timing devices to Israel (Washington Post, 10/31/86).

1987 April 24 Wall Street Journal headline: "Role of Israel in Iran-Contra Scandal Won't be Explored in Detail by Panels"

1992 The Wall Street Journal reports that Israeli agents apparently tried to steal Recon Optical Inc's top-secret airborne spy-camera system.

1992 Stephen Bryen, caught offering confidential documents to Israel in 1978, is serving on board of the pro-Israeli Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs while continuing as a paid consultant -- with security clearance -- on exports of sensitive US technology.

1992 "The Samson Option," by Seymour M. Hersh reports, “Illicitly obtained intelligence was flying so voluminously from LAKAM into Israeli intelligence that a special code name, JUMBO, was added to the security markings already on the documents. There were strict orders, Ari Ben-Menashe recalled: "Anything marked JUMBO was not supposed to be discussed with your American counterparts."

1993. The ADL is caught operating a massive spying operation on critics of Israel, Arab-Americans, the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, Oakland Educational Association, NAACP, Irish Northern Aid, International Indian Treaty Council, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco police. Data collected was sent to Israel and in some cases to South Africa. Pressure from Jewish organizations forces the city to drop the criminal case, but the ADL settles a civil lawsuit for an undisclosed sum of cash.

1995 The Defense Investigative Service circulates a memo warning US military contractors that "Israel aggressively collects [US] military and industrial technology." The report stated that Israel obtains information using "ethnic targeting, financial aggrandizement, and identification and exploitation of individual frailties" of US citizens.

1996 A General Accounting Office report "Defense Industrial Security: Weaknesses in US Security Arrangements With Foreign-Owned Defense Contractors" found that according to intelligence sources "Country A" (identified by intelligence sources as Israel, Washington Times, 2/22/96) "conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally." The Jerusalem Post (8/30/96) quoted the report, "Classified military information and sensitive military technologies are high-priority targets for the intelligence agencies of this country." The report described "An espionage operation run by the intelligence organization responsible for collecting scientific and technologic information for [Israel] paid a US government employee to obtain US classified military intelligence documents." The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Shawn L. Twing, April 1996) noted that this was "a reference to the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian US naval intelligence analyst who provided Israel's LAKAM [Office of Special Tasks] espionage agency an estimated 800,000 pages of classified US intelligence information."

The GAO report also noted that "Several citizens of [Israel] were caught in the United States stealing sensitive technology used in manufacturing artillery gun tubes."

1996 An Office of Naval Intelligence document, "Worldwide Challenges to Naval Strike Warfare" reported that "US technology has been acquired [by China] through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly SAM [surface-to-air] missile technology." Jane's Defense Weekly (2/28/96) noted that "until now, the intelligence community has not openly confirmed the transfer of US technology [via Israel] to China." The report noted that this "represents a dramatic step forward for Chinese military aviation." (Flight International, 3/13/96)

1997 An Army mechanical engineer, David A. Tenenbaum, "inadvertently" gives classified military information on missile systems and armored vehicles to Israeli officials (New York Times, 2/20/97).

1997 The Washington Post reports US intelligence has intercepted a conversation in which two Israeli officials had discussed the possibility of getting a confidential letter that then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher had written to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. One of the Israelis, identified only as “Dov”, had commented that they may get the letter from "Mega”, the code name for Israel’s top agent inside the United States.

1997 US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, complains privately to the Israeli government about heavy-handed surveillance by Israeli intelligence agents.

1997 Israeli agents place a tap on Monica Lewinsky’s phone at the Watergate and record phone sex sessions between her and President Bill Clinton. The Ken Starr report confirms that Clinton warned Lewinsky their conversations were being taped and ended the affair. At the same time, the FBI’s hunt for “Mega” is called off.

2001 It is discovered that US drug agents’ communications have been penetrated. Suspicion falls on two companies, AMDOCS and Comverse Infosys, both owned by Israelis. AMDOCS generates billing data for most US phone companies and is able to provide detailed logs of who is talking to whom. Comverse Infosys builds the tapping equipment used by law enforcement to eavesdrop on all American telephone calls, but suspicion forms that Comverse, which gets half of its research and development budget from the Israeli government, has built a back door into the system that is being exploited by Israeli intelligence and that the information gleaned on US drug interdiction efforts is finding its way to drug smugglers. The investigation by the FBI leads to the exposure of the largest foreign spy ring ever uncovered inside the United States, operated by Israel. Half of the suspected spies have been arrested when 9-11 happens. On 9-11, 5 Israelis are arrested for dancing and cheering while the World Trade Towers collapse. Supposedly employed by Urban Moving Systems, the Israelis are caught with multiple passports and a lot of cash. Two of them are later revealed to be Mossad. As witness reports track the activity of the Israelis, it emerges that they were seen at Liberty Park at the time of the first impact, suggesting a foreknowledge of what was to come. The Israelis are interrogated, and then eventually sent back to Israel. The owner of the moving company used as a cover by the Mossad agents abandons his business and flees to Israel. The United States Government then classifies all of the evidence related to the Israeli agents and their connections to 9-11. All of this is reported to the public via a four part story on Fox News by Carl Cameron. Pressure from Jewish groups, primarily AIPAC, forces Fox News to remove the story from their website. Two hours prior to the 9-11 attacks, Odigo, an Israeli company with offices just a few blocks from the World Trade Towers, receives an advance warning via the internet. The manager of the New York Office provides the FBI with the IP address of the sender of the message, but the FBI does not follow up.

2001 The FBI is investigating 5 Israeli moving companies as possible fronts for Israeli intelligence.

2001 JDL’s Irv Rubin arrested for planning to bomb a US Congressman. He dies before he can be brought to trial.

2002 The DEA issues a report that Israeli spies, posing as art students, have been trying to penetrate US Government offices.

2002 police near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in southern Washington State stop a suspicious truck and detain two Israelis, one of whom is illegally in the United States. The two men were driving at high speed in a Ryder rental truck, which they claimed had been used to "deliver furniture." The next day, police discovered traces of TNT and RDX military-grade plastic explosives inside the passenger cabin and on the steering wheel of the vehicle. The FBI then announces that the tests that showed explosives were “false positived” by cigarette smoke, a claim test experts say is ridiculous. Based on an alibi provided by a woman, the case is closed and the Israelis are handed over to INS to be sent back to Israel. One week later, the woman who provided the alibi vanishes.

2003 The Police Chief of Cloudcroft stops a truck speeding through a school zone. The drivers turn out to be Israelis with expired passports. Claiming to be movers, the truck contains junk furniture and several boxes. The Israelis are handed over to immigration. The contents of the boxers are not revealed to the public.

2003 Israel deploys assassination squads into other countries, including the United States. The US Government does not protest.

2004 Police near the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Tennessee stop a truck after a three mile chase, during which the driver throws a bottle containing a strange liquid from the cab. The drivers turn out to be Israelis using fake Ids. The FBI refuses to investigate and the Israelis are released.

2004 Two Israelis try to enter Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, home to eight Trident submarines. The truck tests positive for explosives.

This brings us to the present scandal. Two years into an investigation of AIPAC’s possible role as a spy front for Israel, Larry Franklin, a mid-level Pentagon Analyst is observed by the FBI giving classified information to two officials of AIPAC suspected of being Israeli spies. AIPAC hires lawyer Nathan Lewin to handle their legal defense, the same lawyer who defended suspected Israeli spy Stephen Bryen in 1978.

Larry Franklin worked in the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, run by Richard Perle, at the time Perle (who was caught giving classified information to Israel back in 1970) was insisting that Iraq was crawling with weapons of mass destruction requiring the United States to invade and conquer Iraq. There were no WMDs, of course, and Perle has dumped the blame for the “bad intelligence” on George Tenet. But what is known is that the Pentagon Office of Special Plans was coordinating with a similar group in Israel, in Ariel Sharon’s office.

With two suspected Israeli spies (at least) inside the office from which the lies that launched the war in Iraq originated, it appears that the people of the United States are the victims of a deadly hoax, a hoax that started a war.

The leaking of the investigation of AIPAC to the media on August 28th, 2004 gave advance warning to other spies working with Franklin. The damage to the FBI’s investigation was completed when United States Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the FBI to stop all arrests in the case. Like the Stephen Bryen case and the hunt for “Mega”, this latest spy scandal seems destined to be buried by officials who have their own secret allegiances to protect, barring a massive public outcry.

The organization at the heart of the latest spy investigation, AIPAC, wields tremendous influence over the US Congress. Through its members and affiliated PACs, AIPAC directs a huge flow of campaign cash in favor of, and occasionally against, Senators and Representatives solely on the basis of their willingness to support Israel. As an example, in 2002, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham received so much help from pro-Israeli pacs that 76% of his campaign budget came from OUTSIDE the state of Alabama, mostly from New York.

Let me repeat that. A Congressman AIPAC wanted elected received more money from pro-Israel groups outside his state than from his own constituents inside his state. Who is that Congressman going to be thinking of when he votes in Congress?

So here is the mother of all scandals.

For two years, the FBI has suspected AIPAC of spying for a foreign country, and for those two years (and for decades before) that group suspected of spying for Israel has been reshaping the US Congress for the benefit of a foreign government.

And THAT is the mother of all scandals.

Think about that as billions of your tax dollars flow to Israel while your roads and schools crumble and decay and services are cut.

Think about that as the coffins come home with your loved ones inside.

Think about that when you and a million of your fellow citizens march down the streets of America opposing wars built on lies and deceptions and wonder why the government just doesn’t want to listen to you any more.


See also: Is Israel Blackmailing America?

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